by Catherine Moran –
When one thinks of angels, three come to mind: St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael. The source of our knowledge of these three archangels is from the Old and New Testament. Church teachings on the angels help us understand their mission and role in helping us.
St. Michael – Defender of the Church
The angel who appeared to the three Fatima children in 1916, identified himself as the Guardian Angel of Portugal. Since 1140, St. Michael has been considered the guardian of this country, and many believe it was St. Michael who appeared to the children at Fatima and taught them about Eucharistic adoration.
Under the covenant of the Old Law, St. Michael was appointed protector and guardian of the synagogue, while under the New Law (the Gospel of Christ) he is the defender and guide to the Church of God. The name Michael means, “Who is like unto God?” When Lucifer and the bad angels rebelled against God, it was St. Michael the Archangel, who with great zeal cried out, “Who is like God?” With this cry, he and the good angels defeated Satan and the fallen angels.
Besides protecting the Church, St. Michael helps protect us at our death, by protecting us from the attacks of demons. At the end of the world, he will appear as a mighty warrior to engage in the final battle with Satan, casting him into hell.
St. Michael is strength for martyrs. He is the patron saint of grocers, paramedics, mariners, paratroopers, police officers and military personnel. His feast day is May 8 and April 25. In the Eastern Catholic Church, it is Nov. 9.
St. Gabriel – Messenger of the Savior
“I am Gabriel who stand before God and am sent to speak to thee and to bring thee good tidings.” (Lk 1:19)
The Archangel Gabriel is most often recalled during the Christmas season as a prominent figure in the Infancy narrative. The name Gabriel means “the strength of God.” He was given the privilege to ask Mary to be the mother of God, to announce the Incarnation.
St. Gabriel has been the source of God’s strength for the saints, especially the apostles and martyrs enabling them to perform deeds of great courage and to endure all forms of sufferings even death. I am sure it was this same strength that enabled Sts. Francisco and Jacinta to offer all their sufferings for Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for Sister Lucia to say “yes” to God as Mary did, and proclaim the message of Fatima faithfully throughout her long life.
Pious traditions relate that Gabriel is the messenger angel who appeared to many people in the Old and New Testament. It is believed he is the unnamed angel who appeared and made announcements to Moses; to Sts. Joachim and Anne, to announce the birth of Mary; to Zachariah, to announce the birth of St. John the Baptist; to the shepherds in Bethlehem, to announce the birth of Jesus; to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, to strengthen Him during His Passion; and to the women who approached Jesus’ tomb to anoint His body, to announce the Resurrection.
Pious tradition further believes it was Gabriel who appeared to St. Joseph in his sleep and instructed him not to divorce Mary, and later, to flee into Egypt with Mary and the Child, and again to return and settle in Nazareth. (Mt 2:13-23)
St. Gabriel is the patron saint of messengers, communication workers, and postal workers. He has charge of children and priests. He is also the patron of contemplative prayer. In spiritual and physical pains call on him for strength and a devotion to Our Lady. His feast day is March 24.
St. Raphael – Healer of Souls
St. Raphael is one of the seven spirits who always stand in the presence of God. (Tob 12:15) His name means “the medicine of God.” This medicine is a divine medicine to heal primarily our souls. St. Raphael is the angel who moved the healing waters of the Pool of Bethesda. (Jn 5:1-9) St. Jacinta lamented over the loss of poor souls who have no one to pray for them. St. Raphael is there with this divine medicine to heal and help save these poor souls.
St. Raphael is the patron of the blind, of happy meetings, of nurses, of physicians and of travelers. He especially assists in administration and the reception of penance. We should pray to him for help when going to confession. By honoring St. Raphael you will always have a good spiritual director. Married couples should venerate him. His feast day is October 24. The feast day for the three archangels is September 29.
Catherine Moran is an author, speaker and radio host for Radio Maria. She is president of the Byzantine division of the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA, Pittsburgh eparchy, and a regular contributor to Soul Magazine and the WAF blog.